Sun, Jul 18, 2004 - Page 23 News List

Marion Jones turns in slow 200m time as she shuns press

AP , SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA

Was she hurting or was she taking it easy? Only Marion Jones knows for sure, and she's not talking.

Jones returned to the track a night after her emotional victory in the long jump at the US Olympic trials, and looked downright ordinary in the 200m.

Jones faded to last in her five-woman qualifying heat Friday night, slowing to nearly a trot on the final straightaway. But she still easily advanced to Saturday's semifinals, because only one of the 19 women in the quarterfinals was eliminated.

It was unclear whether Jones, the reigning Olympic champion in the 200m, was struggling in the final meters of the race or whether she knew she could qualify without much effort. She declined to talk with reporters after the race.

The fastest time in the quarterfinals was 22.60 seconds by Torri Edwards, who placed second in the 100m last weekend. But Edwards' chances of going to the Athens Olympics depend on the results of an arbitration hearing in a drug case.

Edwards acknowledged this week that she had a positive test for a banned stimulant this year, but claims she took the drug inadvertently and is trying to avoid a 2-year ban that would knock her out of the Olympics.

In the men's 200m, Shawn Crawford, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay ran three of the four fastest times in the world this year in the qualifying heats.

Crawford ran a world's best 19.88, while Gatlin ran 20.06 and Gay, the NCAA champion from Arkansas, had a personal best 20.07.

Gatlin and Crawford already are on the US Olympic team in the 100m, along with defending Olympic champion Maurice Greene. Greene was entered in the 200m as well, but -- as expected -- did not show up for his heat.

Tim Broe won the men's 5,000m, but still needs to reach the Olympic qualifying standard before Aug. 9 to be able to compete at the Athens Games. Deena Kastor won the women's 10,000m, but plans to run only the marathon in Athens. Laura Gerraughty won the women's shot put.

In the women's 200m, there were six no-shows. LaTasha Colander, the trials' 100m champion, and Chryste Gaines, who has been charged with steroid use and faces a lifetime ban if found guilty, were among those who withdrew.

So Jones began her heat -- the last of four -- knowing she could take it easy and still advance to the semifinals.

Jones got off to a poor start, but ran the curve well and was among the leaders coming into the final straightaway. Then she slowed significantly in the last 80 meters and finished far behind heat winner Inger Miller.

Jones' time of 22.93 was 10th fastest in the heats.

A night after jumping 7.112m -- the second-best long jump in the world this year and her best since 1998 -- Jones flashed her trademark smile when her name was announced at the start of the 200m. She was expressionless during the long jump competition, but smiled and sobbed after her victory.

Jones wore an all-white body suit, the same color she wore in the 100m preliminaries a week ago. Jones went on to finish fifth in the 100m final, failing to claim a spot on the US team for the Athens Olympics.

Jones is being investigated by the US Anti-Doping Agency. She has not been charged and repeatedly has denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs. Her boyfriend, Tim Montgomery, has been charged with steroid use and faces a lifetime ban if found guilty by an international arbitration panel.

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